Electronic edition published by Cultural Heritage Langauge Technologies (with permission from Charles Scribners and Sons) and funded by the National Science Foundation International Digital Libraries Program. This text has been proofread to a low degree of accuracy. It was converted to electronic form using data entry.
GOULD, JOHN (b. Lyme Regis, England, 14 September
1804; d. London, England, 3 February 1881),
illustrations of flowers as well; they are on the whole
accurate, but Gould has sometimes been criticized for
sacrificing correct detail to effect.
Gould's most significant work was The Birds of
Australia. He issued two volumes of plates and then
decided that he must visit Australia before continuing;
he and his wife spent 1838-1840 there with an
assistant, John Gilbert. They explored Australasia
extensively and recorded their findings in notes,
drawings, and letters. Issued between 1840 and 1869,
the new series of plates, each with a page of description
of the species, included notes on distribution and
adaptation to the environment, an index of species,
and a systematic table. Later he issued a series on
Australian mammals, noting the parallels in form and
function between marsupial and placental mammals.
Gould is probably better remembered in Australia
than in his home country; the Gould League of Bird
Lovers was founded in Victoria in 1909.
He worked on birds collected by expeditions of the
Beagle and the Sulphur and made plates for their
reports. He also issued works on the birds of Europe,
Asia, Britain, and New Guinea, and on special
groups. In 1843 Gould was elected a fellow of the
Royal Society; and during the exhibition of 1851 he
displayed his collection of hummingbirds in the gardens
of the Zoological Society. He later published a
monograph on them. Volumes incomplete at the time
of his death in 1881 were finished by R. Bowdler
Sharpe, then at the British Museum (Natural History).
Gould, who was almost entirely self-taught, had a
rare combination of qualities as naturalist, artist, and
businessman which enabled him to leave an extremely
valuable record of bird life.
I. ORIGINAL WORKS.
His first publication was A Century
of Birds From the Himalaya Mountains (London, 1831-1832),
written with N. A. Vigors; the next was The Birds
of Europe, 5 vols. (London, 1832-1837). The first attempt
at a synopsis of the 4-part The Birds of Australia and the
Adjacent Islands, 2 vols. (London, 1837-1838), is now very
rare and was superseded by The Birds of Australia, 7 vols.
(London, 1840-1848) and Supplement (London, 1851-1869).
Of his works on special groups the most important
is A Monograph of the Trochilidae or Humming-Birds, 5
vols. (London, 1849-1861), and a 5-part Supplement
(London, 1880-1887). Modern reproductions of some of
the plates were issued in a smaller format as Plates of Birds
of Europe, Reproduced, 2 vols. (London, 1966), with text
by A. Rutgers.
II. SECONDARY LITERATURE.
The most useful biography
and bibliography of Gould are in R. Bowdler Sharpe, An
Analytical Index to the Works of the Late John Gould,
F. R. S., With a Biographical Memoir and Portrait (London,
1893); both are based on the obituary by Tommaso
Salvadori in Atti della R. Accademia delle scienze (Turin),
16 (1881), 789-810. Two other good short accounts are
G. T. Bettany, in Dictionary of National Biography, XXII
(London, 1890), 287-288, which includes the bibliography
of his separately published works and references to other
useful obituaries; and A. H. Chisholm, in Australian Dictionary
of Biography, I (Melbourne, 1966), 465-467. A
popular account is C. L. Barrett, The Bird Man: A Sketch
of the Life of John Gould (Melbourne-Sydney, 1938). The
centenary of Gould's arrival in Australia was celebrated by
a commemorative issue of Emu,88, pt. 2 (Oct. 1938), 89-244,
which includes evaluations and information about the
location of MSS by Gould, most of which went to Australian
Assessment of the artistic value of Gould's work can be
found in the substantial review in The Times, no. 20,897
(3 Sept. 1851), 7; and in S. Sitwell et al., Fine Bird Books
(London, 1953), pp. 25-40. The plates were dated by
F. H. Waterhouse in Dates of Publication of Some of the
Zoological Works of the Late John Gould (London, 1885);
this includes a short biographical sketch but does not cover
The Birds of Europe, for which Waterhouse did a MS
volume of dates (1904), still in the library of the Zoological
Society of London.
There is a portrait of Gould at the Linnean Society, of
which he was a fellow. His collection of birds from
Australia was sold to a collector in Philadephia, but his
collection of hummingbirds was bought after his death by
the British Museum (Natural History), which published a
catalog by A. Günther, A Guide to the Gould Collection
of Humming Birds (London, 1881; 2nd ed., 1883; 3rd ed.,